24 Jul 2024


Project slashes cost of OT cybersecurity for UK SMEs

Cyber-partners: Awen Collective CEO Paul Dennis (left), with Siemens’ product solution and security officer, Paul Hingley

A Welsh cybersecurity software developer has joined forces with Siemens to offer a low-cost OT (operational technology) security system for manufacturing SMEs (small and medium sized enterprises) in the UK. They say that the managed security system will protect any networked, Internet-connected technology with pricetags starting from £10,000, rather than the hundreds of thousands of pounds normally needed to set up and maintain security operations centres.

The project is being backed by a group of organisations including the North West Cyber Resilience Centre, and the Universities of Manchester and Salford. It will be rolled out initially in North West England, before possibly being expanded into Wales and the rest of the UK.

The scheme is intended to tackle the growing threat of cyberattacks faced by SMEs. According to Government statistics, 48% of small businesses and 59% of medium-sized businesses reported cyber-breaches or attacks in the past 12 months.

Digitalisation and the growing networking of machines and industrial systems means that OT is at an increased risk of cyber-attacks. Despite this, many SMEs do not prioritise cybersecurity, thinking either that they cannot afford it or do not need it.

“Businesses often don’t realise the potentially devastating effects of a cyber-attack on their business until it’s too late,” warns Katie Gallagher, co-founder of North West Cyber Resilience Centre.

The new scheme is based on the Dot software developed by the Caerphilly-based cybersecurity firm Awen Collective, with support from Siemens. It performs asset and vulnerability discovery procedures on OT installations including robots, industrial controls, Scada systems and IIoT installations. Awen developed the software with grant and advisory assistance from the Welsh government.

“We are very pleased to be building this partnership with Siemens to deliver quality solutions that help prevent the very real threat of cybercrime,” says Awen’s founder and executive chairman, Daniel Lewis. “We’re giving industrial organisations the capability to discover vulnerabilities that they may not have been aware that they had, and the tools to do something about them.”

“Cyber-security sits at the centre of digital transformation – understanding and adopting it into industrial control concepts is a must,” adds Paul Hingley, Siemens Digital Industries’ product solution and security officer for the UK and Ireland. “Partnering with Awen and the consortium, we will answer some of the concerns and challenges around cyber-security the industry faces, by delivering an IT and OT operational response centre.

“This will enable SMEs to invest in a service that will provide cyber-alarms when their control systems become compromised by cyber-attacks,” he continues. “The concept we have developed with the consortium has the potential to provide low-cost protection across the office and manufacturing space. It is a unique offering that will allow companies to build their cyber-resilience while developing their business impact knowledge – a major step forward in improving the cyber-maturity of UK industry.”

Awen CollectiveTwitter  LinkedIn

Siemens:  Twitter  LinkedIn   Facebook